Negative effect of vitamin D on kidney function: a Mendelian randomization study

CKDGen Consortium

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Background. The kidney plays a central role in the regulation of vitamin D metabolism. It is not clear, however, whether vitamin D influences kidney function. Previous studies have reported conflicting results, which may have been influenced by reverse causation and residual confounding. We conducted a Mendelian randomization (MR) study to obtain unconfounded estimates of the association between genetically instrumented vitamin D metabolites and estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) as well as the urinary albumin: creatinine ratio (UACR).

Methods. We performed a two-sample MR study based on three single nucleotide variants associated with 25(OH)D levels: rs2282679, rs10741657 and rs12785878, related to the genes GC, CYP2R1 and DHCR7, respectively. Estimates of the allele-dependent effects on serum 25(OH)D and eGFR/UACR were obtained from summary statistics of published genome-wide association meta-analyses. Additionally, we performed a one-sample MR analysis for both 25(OH)D and 1,25(OH)2D using individual-level data from six cohorts.

Results. The combined MR estimate supported a negative causal effect of log transformed 25(OH)D on log transformed eGFR (beta = -0.013, P = 0.003). The analysis of individual-level data confirmed the main findings and also revealed a significant association of 1,25(OH)2D on eGFR (beta = -0.094, P = 0.008). These results show that a 10% increase in serum 25(OH)D levels causes a 0.3% decrease in eGFR. There was no effect of 25(OH)D on UACR (beta = 0.032, P = 0.265).

Conclusion. Our study suggests that circulating vitamin D metabolite levels are negatively associated with eGFR. Further studies are needed to elucidate the underlying mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2139-2145
Number of pages7
JournalNephrology, Dialysis, Transplantation
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec-2018


  • albuminuria
  • causality
  • glomerular filtration rate
  • Mendelian randomization
  • vitamin D
  • RISK

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